Ada, a Toronto-based customer service automation startup, has been around long enough to predate the use of large language models in its solutions, but today the company is announcing a new suite of tools powered by generative AI with the goal of taking that automation to another level.
Company co-founder and CEO Mike Murchison says that his company’s mission since its launch in 2016 is to give every customer a great experience, something that isn’t the case now with long wait times, horrible hold music and too much bad information. He’s hoping that generative AI will help him get his customers closer to that ideal.
“In short, with Ada, you can build once and deploy anywhere across any channel messaging, voice, [whatever], and that bot is deployed everywhere.The initial build time for the bot is essentially zero because we are generating answers on the fly grounded in your knowledge across your company,” Murchison told TechCrunch.
It’s a tall task, especially with the hallucination problem inherent in large language models where it makes up words or actions if it doesn’t know what to do from the information in the knowledge base.
“One of the hardest problems to solve right now with applying generative AI at runtime is the safety problem. How do you ensure that [the bot is] giving you a real answer and that it’s safe, it’s accurate, it’s relevant? How do you actually do that?” he asked.
He says that those issues are not actually part of an LLM problem. “It turns out that there’s a lot of complexity, a lot of IP we built around our whole AI pipeline that’s enabled us to [give an answer] with confidence. It’s a big, big reason our customers are so excited about this,” he said.
What’s more, he claims that the number of times you need to pass off more complex tasks to a human falls off dramatically with this product, but Ada integrates with customer service software like Zendesk and Salesforce for when the need arises.
“In that situation, where there’s a gap, we hand off seamlessly to a human. And that’s been a big part of Ada’s growth, actually; over the last five years in particular [we have seen] just how effectively we’ve complemented the agent desktops in this space, Zendesk and Salesforce in particular,” Murchison explained.
Today, the company has over 300 customers using the platform, including Meta, Verizon and Shopify. The company, which launched in 2016, has raised over $190 million, including a $130 million Series C in 2021.